By Rae Hodge–

Jason Bourne has no idea what tragic horror is about to befall him as he idles quietly on his motorcycle at this red light. The sad face pictured above tells the story of a man who regrets his decision to pursue an advanced degree in anthromusicology.

My mailbox has been spewing glossy, 8-page advertisements for MA programs since last August. They’re high-quality print stock brochures from nearby universities which promise an easy academic transition into urban planning, law school, and MBA’s. They picture groups of students arm-in-arm as they stroll on idyllic campus greens.

They’re laughing at that dark joke, whose setup is a paltry job market still dominated by their refuse-to-retire Baby Boomer parents, and whose punchline is “Who said I wanted to leave college anyway?”

For those of you headed into a S.T.E.M. field, the grad-degree bet is still a good one. Go for it. You deserve it. May your tribe increase. But maybe you other soon-to-be-minted BA’s will agree with me when I say that I don’t have the nerve to double down on an already risky bet by taking out an additional few thousand in student loans.

What’s a better bet, you ask? How could I prepare myself for a professional life, ensure a higher income, and pursue an education in my field without hunkering down for another three years of back-breaking study? Simple. Prioritize the skills I need and streamline my curriculum.

Parkour – So there you are, smoking a jay in your living room and watching some Netflix when there’s a knock on the door. You hide the stash in your Dorito bag and throw it under the couch before coughing out “Just a minute!”

When you crack open the door, there’s Louisville’s finest with a big pushy smirk and a twirling black billy-club. The dilemma is as follows: If you’re a grad student, you’re probably broke; if you’re broke, you can’t get a lawyer; if you can’t get a lawyer, you’re going to jail.

That’s where parkour comes in: if they can’t catch you, they can’t arrest you. So you need to make sure you can do a barrel roll out your front, kick flip off the trunk of PoPo’s cruiser and G-to-the-F-O.

Instead of paying a grand for a class on pre-revolutionary Russian lit, I’m going to be learning urban evasion tactics and indulging my paranoia of the CIA while fantasizing about being Jason Bourne.

Tactical weapons training – Speaking of Jason Bourne, you know that guy can kill somebody with a rolled-up magazine? Seriously. I saw him do it. Seems like a life skill worth attaining in lieu of my MFA.

Berettas, .38 Specials, AK’s and submachine guns aren’t going to shoot themselves. If my hunting trip to Russia takes a wrong turn, and I suddenly realize that I am both completely alone and being stalked by a crazy bare-chested Vladimir Putin across the icy tundra of the Motherland, I might find myself questioning why I went an additional $40,000 in debt to learn about sonnets instead of learning how to fire several very accurately-placed rounds into a methed-out man-bear who is charging at me, covered in snow and mouth-foam.

Weapons training will also enable me to more safe with firearms. There will be far less chance of misidentifying my target. I don’t want to accidentally shoot Sarah Palin as I cross the Bering Straight in making my hasty retreat.

Krav Maga – The unthinkable happens: fully-automatic, military-grade weapons which I have no business owning anyway suddenly become completely and permanently illegal. I don’t want to be caught off guard and unarmed when the prophesied tidal wave of outlaws and highwaymen pour into Louisville to burn my crops and take my women.

While blotting my precious tears today on a hanky embroidered with the second amendment, I had a thought: what if my entire body was a fully-automatic, military-grade weapon?

Who needs to bear arms when you could jack somebody up with bare hands? With a few Krav lessons I’ll feel safe leaving my door unlocked no matter where I live. I’ll be cuddling up to my teddy at night, drifting into a peaceful slumber, muttering about “I wish somebody would…”
Money-saving bonus: no longer having to pay for a home security system (the last thing you want is an interruption while you’re wood-chipping the body).

Motorcycles – I don’t want to cruise around on them every day. Really. How many of my friends and relatives do I have to see get smeared across the pavement before those death traps lose their appeal?
I just want to know that I could hop on one and take off if I wanted to.

I want to know that if I see some loud-piping jerk-off punk down in Old Louisville – his cigarettes rolled into the sleeve of his white t-shirt, which is taut against his arms, arms with just enough muscle, the kind of muscle you get not from some gym but from working wrenches under the hood all day, muscles that bulge slightly as he twists and loosens his grip on the handle, whose name is probably Hank or Jackie, and who straddles a hot motor with his jeans, who revs it at the red light where I’m in a sundress on the crosswalk, and casually flings me a smirk from under a loose sheaf of James Dean hair – that I could totally take him down and jack his ride.

Lockpicking – The way I see it, me being in handcuffs at the end of the night could signal either a cold, crushing defeat or an ecstatic, sweaty victory. Either way, I’ve got to be prepared.

If my parkour goes awry, if I get kidnapped by terrorists, if the Bilderberg group turns out to be in league with the Illuminati and I end up in the back of some black van headed to Sedona pinned to a dirty mattress while they make me drink fluoridated water – I’ll be able to do a full-scale James Bond evasion, before jumping out the porthole window in a tuck-and-roll.

When I stand up, dust myself off, and coolly adjust my bow-tie, I’ll be sure to remember that I could just as easily be back in grad school, arguing about which roommate is responsible for using the last of the toothpaste. But for the grace of God, there go I.
And, dear reader, but for the grace of me, there go you too.

[email protected]
Photo courtesy of